Four years ago, Fast Company posted an article titled How to Redesign Your Days to Give You Back a Few Extra Hours Every Week. The author listed five categories where we can make changes: Quit Something; Limit Something; Pause Something; Delegate Something; and Add Something. It’s a worthwhile exercise.
I’ve updated this each year but contemplating these five areas after a pandemic and cultural reckoning may yield some new answers. Let’s take a closer look—and please fill in your own answers for 2023.
For Limit Something, how about limiting a lack of collaboration? “In 2023, we’ll see a reconciliation around how we work—from communicating online to onboarding new employees, from managing tasks to celebrating milestones,” writes Rodney Gibbs, senior director of strategy and innovation for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in NiemanLab’s always-terrific Predictions for Journalism 2023. “A few newsrooms and other industries have already figured this out. Wily news orgs, taking a hard look at how they work, will follow suit and recast their processes and norms to accommodate our new normal. The stakes are too high to sit back and hope it works itself out.”
For Quit Something, they wrote “Quit a recurring meeting. Quit a committee. Quit Facebook. Quit Candy Crush.” How about quit going with the same speakers? Audience favs are okay but take time to research and find new and diverse speakers for your next webinar, podcast or event. With them might come new audiences. And think about giving other people chances to shine, such as photographers or freelance writers. “Diverse perspectives are rarely legitimized as sources for topics other than diversity, and said communities are often reported on once a year—or once a tragedy,” writes Dominic-Madori Davis (pictured), a senior reporter at TechCrunch covering venture capital and startups, also in Predictions. “It’s never routine, never guaranteed. This produces work without nuance, far from being as intersectional as the actual business and tech audiences are.”
For Pause Something, they wrote: “[Go] on a walk in the middle of the day. [Give] yourself permission to run an errand during your lunch break. Stopping for a moment to assert your ability to do the non-urgent reduces the sense that everything has to happen at a frenetic pace, and that there’s no time to slow down.” Wow, this has just multiplied in its relevancy! Many of us are starting our work day earlier and ending later, amplifying the need to take breaks. There is one problem, however. In his book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, Dan Pink wrote: “Research shows us that social breaks are better than solo breaks—taking a break with somebody else is more restorative than doing it on your own.” That may not be easy right now. Try reaching out to a friend or neighbor for a walk.
Delegate Something has become a bit tougher in these times, for two reasons, I think. One, we’re interacting even less, of course, with co-workers so delegating something takes more intentional outreach. And two, maybe “delegate” isn’t a great word anymore because we only think of giving tasks to someone less senior, rather than sharing tasks and perhaps giving one or two to someone who is more suited to them, regardless or your command chain. Writes Fast Company: “As you plan your day, ask yourself: Is this something that I really need to do myself, or could someone else do this instead?” If this makes you reach out to a colleague, then that’s a good thing. A 5-minute phone call can supersede 30 minutes of emails sometimes.
For Add Something, their advice was: “Add an exercise class, book a trip, plan a get-together with friends.” I can give you an idea that satisfies the last two: book a trip to Orlando for our Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS – 6th edition, I believe) where you will meet and network with many friends and colleagues in the industry. Given the coming cold snap—which we know is just the beginning—spending a few days in Florida at the end of February will be much welcomed. Wait, I’m sure the hotel has an exercise room—that’s three for three!